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Monday, 24 October 2011

The Evolution of the Vernacular : Reblog

When it comes to the history of architecture, those who work within the industry know very well the importance and the relevance of referring to the past; not only to prevent the repetition of the same mistakes, but also to remain grounded and to understand where one's ideas sit within the wider framework of things.

Though this is not a recent development, the issue of 'imported' architecture, has always brewed beneath the surface of my personal discussions.

Today, the discussion is opened to allow those of you who have strong views about this to speak out.
Lagos; the old capital was a target for colonisation much also like many other major cities around the world, but now that we have entered the aftermath of this it's important to remember to continue to ask questions, for example; have we managed to regain our image and our identity.

Of course, the colonisation of Nigeria cannot be ignored, and in truth, it shouldn't, afterall history is history be it good or bad and perhaps this is what Nigeria needed in order to confront the development of its architecture.

It is also important to note that this conflict, of the colonial and vernacular, is not unique to Nigeria, many countries such as India and South Africa also struggled with this 'search for the contemporary identity'. There are opportunities to research and learn from their discoveries on their journey to finding their identity in architecture and another post has been dedicated to exploring these examples.

After all of this, you must still ask yourself; can you take a person to Lagos, and know that they would be able to grasp the genesis of Nigeria and of course, its evolution?

For example, the pictures below are of some of the wealthy places in Lagos, areas where it is evident that both time and money have gone into the development of the surrounding architecture.

Victoria Island


There is very little reference to the vernacular and even to the past. It may even look as if the architecture is a little too eager to jump to the future neglecting the need for research into specific terrain and weather needs and how to bring forward elements that our ancestors perfected and that work! Houses/apartments as pictured about are typical of places like America, and the 'mansion' lifestyle is glorified. Most Nigerian vernacular buildings hold strong relationships with their surroundings, and feature softer lines that reflect the method of construction - typically by hand and the available resources native to that area. Exterior markings and emblems on the outside dictate the hierarchy of a series of live-in spaces and overall there is a sense of flow and continuity with the surroundings.

The fear is that these gated community 'imported' designs, neglect to respond to the history of the land, and thus they seem temporary, they seem like they are merely sitting on the soil beneath, and not truly penetrating deep into the roots, into the earth, and into the people.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Wanted: Blog Photo Submissions!

The NigerianArchitecture blog welcomes submissions from readers.

So if you happen to bump into something that inspires you, makes you laugh or is just plain ugly, send it in and it might get featured on the blog!

Thank you!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

An example of western classical architecture fallen into a state of disrepair.

Osun State, September 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

Iléṣà, Iléṣà, Oṣun State,  State, September 2011

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Nigerian House of the Future #4

"What do you mean? What's wrong with the Nigerian House of today." - Dami Apampa

That was the reply my friend gave me when I asked her casually over my Blackberry Messenger, it just goes to show you that for a lot of people, sustainability isn't a criteria.

So is a house that looks good and is comfortable however you make it - be it with several air conditioning units indoors and decorative paint that needs to be applied at least yearly - a good house?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

Mr. Biggs Shop front September 2011

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Fantastic Read #2 - The Architecture of Happiness

I must admit this book is pretty intense at times but the writing style is really lovely and is really helpful if you're looking to develop your architectural vocabulary.

It can be a daunting read for a student who had only just begun to engage within the world of architecture otherwise it can be an excellent challenge for a person who wants to think outside of the normal four walls that constrain their architectural thoughts and decisions.

I rate this book:

- In terms of topics that it covers: 3/5
It is mostly focused on the philosophy behind western ideals of architecture, it doesn't cover African or Asian topics.
- In terms of images and examples: 5/5
There are detailed examples and descriptions throughout the book.
- In terms of usefulness: 5/5
This is a difficult thing to judge in a book that isn't a necessity however would be a very interesting read, but it is pretty specific and so if you are particularly interested in how architecture can relate to the well-being and happiness of people, this book would be incredibly useful otherwise not so much.

I definitely recommend this for the deep thinker who wants to think about western relationships with the architecture of their homes.

The formal synopsis:
"What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? And can buildings make us happy? In "The Architecture of Happiness", Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning the spotlight from the humble terraced house to some of the world's most renowned buildings, de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices - from those of Christopher Wren to those of Le Corbusier and Norman Foster - influence how we feel, as well as how we could learn to build in ways that would increase our chances of happiness. "The Architecture of Happiness" amounts to a beguiling tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture."

Link to book on Amazon.co.uk

If you have any books to suggest please email me at: tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

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